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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35527

Law 11 - Offside 5/22/2024

Petr of Prague, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...


I have one offside situation, please.

Player A20 passes the ball. A10 in offside position is close to B5 at this moment. The ball flies through the air. A10 runs towards the goal. B5 heads the ball. A10 is three meters away from B5 when the ball is headed. A13 scores.

Could it be interfering with the opponent? (A10 is close to B5 at the time of the pass)

Thank you very much!

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Petr,
based on your description, I favour no offside. The key part of involvement, it is not ONLY proximity, but did that nearness, cause the defender any grief? Was there contact, a push off? Did it interfere as in the defender having to go around or slow down or change the direction of the defender's run? DID A10 do anything to prohibit the defender from heading the ball or in his route to get there? If there is no interference then there is no offside, the defender made a choice, played the ball poorly and thus suffers the consequences

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Petr,
I suppose this could potentially be interfering with an opponent but I'd have to say that, looking at your description, it doesn't sound like it.

According to Law 11 - Offside, what you have to decide is whether A10 has done any of the following:

"preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or

challenging an opponent for the ball or

clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent or

making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball"

Again, based on your description it doesn't sound as if A10 did any of these things.

About the only one that might potentially fit, I suppose, is "obstructing the opponent's line of vision" but there's no real indication of that in your description.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
Thanks for the question

Back in 2021 in the English Premier League in a game between Aston Villa and Manchester City the opening goal created a lot of controversy due to a potential offside call.

A Man City player was clearly returning from an offside position when he dispossessed a Villa defender, who had controlled an aerial pass forward with his chest. Just after he controlled it the City player within a second or so nipped in to win the ball. At the time it was deemed that the Villa player had controlled the ball and there was no interference in the control part.
The decision did not sit well as a *fair* decision yet under the interpretation of Law 11 it was deemed not to be offside. That opinion was spoken about in the discussion with reference to another incident involving Liverpool and Spurs.

PGMOL the referee body in the UK sought an opinion on the Villa incident from IFAB and the following statement was issued
** Where a player in an offside position immediately impacts on an opponent who has deliberately played the ball, the match officials should prioritise challenging an opponent for the ball, and thus the offside offence of 'interfering with an opponent by impacting on the opponent's ability to play the ball' should be penalised. **

So in the EPL the Villa incident would now be offside while the Liverpool incident was not a challenge just a poor deliberate kick by the defender is still not offside.

Whether that applies to just the EPL I am not sure yet IFAB when it speaks does so for any game played under the Laws of the Game.

So there you have it. The description you give has factors in it that are unknown such as what was the intention of the header, was it an attempt to control or simply a poor play. I’m in the no offside camp yet I can see such a situation with offside being given at grassroots due to PIOP proximity, angle of view of the AR etc. It can also look clearly offside and to use a term in the discussion on the Villa goal it can be considered *unpalatable* not to give it.

I recall in a high level Youth game where a defender headed a through ball straight up in the air and there was a PIOP some three metres away. When the ball came back down to the same defender the PIOP challenged him immediately much like the Villa incident. I felt it was offside and I flagged for it. There were a few moans about the defender playing the ball without interference yet in the scheme of things it was just a challenge that nothing much came of other than the offside free kick. It could have gone either way yet I felt that the PIOP had used his offside position to affect play.

We have all seen situation say at a free kick where a defender in the defensive offside line jumps up to head the ball away, makes deliberate contact on the ball yet it flies on through to a player in an offside position who could not interfere with an opponent so no offside.
Here is an example of that.

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Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

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